The holiday season is typically a time of traditions, celebrations, and renewed connections with family and friends. It can also be a challenging time of family obligations and stress.
When I started batteling cancer, the holidays become even more complicated. I experience a mixture of complex and conflicting emotions, including excitement, sadness, worry, exhaustion, hope, and uncertainty. I found it to be difficult to balance these complex feelings with the holiday spirit. Adjusting to a New Season
In the mist of the joy and festivity of the holiday season, I find myself feelling different inside. While I watch my husband and kids struggling to make the holidays as pleasant as possible for me, I am worried about being a burden, or disappointing them if I don’t share in the expected holiday cheer.
In addition, the effects of cancer and cancer treatment may make you look and feel out of sorts. I still feel self-conscious about my appearance or worried about having the strength and energy to participate in holiday activities. I also worry that others will treat me differently. Even though i feel like things have changed, I don’t want others to dwell on the cancer or I really hate hearing you look good every thing considering.
I have been told over and over again that it’s normal for people fighting cancer to feel out of step with the rest of the world.
With the holidays and thoughts of the year ahead I have found new questions, such as the following:
How will I take care of holiday preparations and myself at the same time?
How can I celebrate when I have so many other things on my mind?
Will I have enough energy to participate in all the holiday activities?
How will I handle seeing my friends and family?
How will my friends and family handle seeing me?
What will my life be like next year? Finding Your Way to Celebrate
Cancer did not just happen to me. It happens my family members and friends as well. During the holidays, cancer can challenge each of us in different ways which this has been something that I have been forced to look at and not just the poor pity me. Therefore, as i cope with cancer this holiday season, communication with my loved ones becomes essential. It is also important that I keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to handle the holidays. i need to discover what works best for me. Even if it means lots of tears along the way.
Tips for Coping:
I have found going into the first holiday (Thanksgiving) that I need to do more than normal preparing emotionally. The holidays brings on their own expecatations, which can be stressful for any one but dealing with cancer I am finding that I am alrady placeing unrealistic expectations on my self, and my family. Emotional roller – coster of anticipations, disappointments, and yes apprehension. I find myself doing a lot more deep breathing, and visulization. As the holidays get closer.
Keep it simple.When I was in the middle of cancer treatment, many tasks such as cooking, shopping and decorating can become overwhelming. I did learn to stop stressing and allow others to help me. But now that it is the holidays I found my self needing to feel like I can do it all again. I am working on keeping my expectations realistic and manageable in order not to over stress. This means that I wont be attending large gathering, going to every holiday activitie like I have in the past. As a family we have decided instead attending big parties that we do one small party and ask our family and close friends and we are asking them to bring a dish to share. We are going to pick three activites to attend.
Big meals, well this year instead of doing the menu and cooking all by mysel f I have asked my kids to pick a dish or two that they would love to have this year, catch is they will be making the dish them self. Relieving me of some of the pressures and giving me more time to relax and enjoy.
Find different ways to shop finances are an issue, know my spending limit, and have set a budget. I also will be doing heartfelt, homemade gifts that I have been working on while getting treatments done, which will let those that I love know that I care.
I am learning my physical limitations. I pay attention to how much rest I need so I do not overextend myself.
Cancer has changed the way Irelate to my loved ones, and the way they relate to me. This is something that has been very hard for me to deal with, but I am finding that if I tell them when I am not feeling good or am having a harder time right then and there. It helps cut down on flustrating feeling. Open communacation!
Discover new traditions. It has always been a tradition in my family to back cookies every day in December, I am already worried about how I will do this when if I am out doint stuff two days in a row I am tired. So we have decided to let the tradition go and only make each of our favorits. Most of all do what is right for me in the here and now. Who knows we might rediscover happiness in old and new ways.
Share your feelings. Expressing my feelings, needs and concerns with others can help reduce the stress of the holidays. Communicating my feelings with others can help me feel less alone and more connected.
Set goals for the New Year. My dreams and hopes for the future are different now. Things that seemed important before can yield new priorities, such as enjoying more time with your friends and family. Re-evaluating my priorities can help improve your outlook.
Remember the meaning of the holidays. Try not to focus on what may be missing or what is different about this year’s holiday season. Try to focus on what the holidays are truly about: a time of sharing with others, being thankful, renewing relationships, and appreciating life.
If as a cancer patent I could give loved ones adivce it may be something like this: Remind your loved one that you care. Your loved one may need extra reassurance that they are still needed and loved. Find gifts that reflect who they are apart from the cancer. Examples include books, art, and music, or tickets to the museum, theater, sporting events, etc. You want to show your loved one that you see him or her as a person, not as a cancer patient.
Give them space if they need it. Invite your loved one to join in holiday activities, but don’t pressure them to be involved in every event. Even if they aren’t up to an activity at first, leave the invitation open in case they decide to participate at the last minute.
Maintain some normalcy. Your loved one probably wants to celebrate the holidays as normally as possible, without dwelling on cancer. They want to feel that you are with them because you love them and enjoy their company, not because you feel sorry for them.
Offer to help. Offer to clean the house, do laundry, cook, get groceries, decorate, etc. Give your loved one the opportunity to decide what they want to do, and then help with the rest.
Be good to you. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep and doing self care for yourself as well. This year there will be added stress for you as well.